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Published in Art Monthly, May 2016 ( No. 396 28-29 )
In 1970 Robert Motherwell wrote that, in the humanism of abstraction, ‘you don’t have to paint a figure in order to express human feelings…states of feeling, when generalised, become questions of light, colour, weight, solidity, airiness, lyricism, sombreness, heaviness, strength’. His words have their echo in the robust and intense, quietly disclosive drawings of Anna Barriball at Frith Street Gallery.
Related Exhibitions: Anna Barriball: New Works
Published in Frieze, 17 February 2014
Not all of Anna Barriball’s art is photographic, but its various forms share a preoccupation with the legacy of casual representation. They are poised between appealing to the remaining recognition of photography’s veracity, and asking us to complicitly acknowledge that this has been diminished to a motif. This theme can become portentously elegiac, as if a casual link to the past automatically granted poignancy to retrospection, and Barriball’s work has a monumental, meditative quality that tends to encourage such an assumption. Like Stezaker, she uses overt artifice - in her case, arbitrary colouring and formalistic patterning - as a counterforce to resist submission to the seductiveness of nostalgia.
Related Exhibitions: Anna Barriball
Published in The Independent, 22 November 2013
It was a flat tyre that led me to Anna Barriball. I had been visiting Hurvin Anderson’s studio in Bermondsey, South London, when I found myself stranded in the rain. Barriball, who works in the same complex, rescued me, taking me into her studio to wait for the AA.
Her studio is on the same floor as Anderson’s in the former biscuit factory and shares his outlook – an open sky and trains zipping by on the aqueduct. She loves the beautiful sunsets, she says, apologising that she has to carry on working as she talks. Her pieces are due to go to the framers later today for her new show at Frith Street Gallery. Her assistant, Annabel, carries on painting a strip of fluorescent orange that will eventually be hidden but will cast its ethereal light across the final work.
Barriball often works on the same theme. One set of drawings is made using the mundane ceiling tiles often seen in 1970s buildings, by painstakingly piercing through the tiles with a pencil. I ask how long they take to make. “They take time. There is often a layering of time, in the making and the subject. I’m also showing video loops at Frith Street. They’re made from still images edited together to give movement and duration.”
Related Exhibitions: Anna Barriball
Published in Scotsman, January 2012
This impulse to make contact with surfaces is everywhere in Barriball’s work. Door is an entire traditional door, made by laying a sheet on the surface and covering it with graphite, like a kind of brass rubbing. In the process it acquires three dimensions, like a shallow relief sculpture. Mirror Window Wall is a series of sash windows rendered, through similar techniques in silver ink.
Again Barriball is worrying away with the questions of openings and barriers, apertures and dead ends. Mirror Window Wall confuses. You wonder about whether it, or you, is inside or out. Many of Barriball’s similar works render something transparent like glass into a hard opaque surface.
Published in Art Monthly, December 2011
Most of Barriball’s pieces in this thoughtfully installed show work on a poetic, conceptual level that, like the slow shadow photographs of Uta Barth or the charcoal night sky drawings by Vija Celmins, reward long looking. In a superb diptych called Shutters II, 2011, she has taken a graphite rubbing of two arched shutters. There is a terriﬁ c play of shade, shading and shadow, as the work moves from the shutters’ purpose of darkening a room to the act of blackening the page through shading…..Simple and striking, Light drawing, 2000, meets the challenge artists have faced for centuries: how to draw light. Barriball has coloured every inch of the metal surface of an angle-poise lamp with yellow marker pen and then drawn a circle of tungsten yellow on a card on the wall as if the yellow is pouring itself onto the lit surface.
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